Thirteen (2016) Review

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Rating: 3/5

No of episodes: 5

Continuing my binge watching, the next on my list was Thirteen. This show had been on my list for quite some time. Since I read that the show didn’t have anything out of the ordinary, my interest level was very low. Helpless with no other show to watch, I began watching Thirteen. May be it’s because I had very low expectations; the show wasn’t a huge disappointment.

Ivy Moxam, now 26 years, escapes after being kidnapped and held captive for 13 years (Hence, the show titled Thirteen!). Physically affected and even more psychologically, the show takes the audience through Ivy’s life, her struggle with coming to terms with the present. Her family has changed, her house is different, and she believes her childhood boyfriend Tim is still in love with her while he is actually married. The show is more about Ivy’s psychological battle rather than solving her kidnapping case. We have two detectives- Lissy and Elliot, who try to get as much information as possible from Ivy to put all the pieces together to find the kidnapper. They find lot of contradictory details which make them suspicious of Ivy’s statements itself. With one more kidnapping and the abductor getting in contact with Ivy, the police with the help of Ivy and her family try to nab the kidnapper and put an end to the thirteen year old case.

Ivy gets our sympathy initially. Thirteen years to be held captive in a cellar and to survive is a huge task. She finds it very hard to trust anyone, especially men. Every time she trusts someone, she is faced with disappointment. First, she trusts Elliot. She talks only to him but when she realises Elliot is only doing his job, she stops trusting him. Tim returns to her life, only he hides his marriage from her. When she gets to know the truth, she is disappointed again. She gets close to her father, but when she gets to know he left his family for another woman, disappointment strikes again. In this way, she struggles to trust anyone because she misses all those that happened in those 13 years. The result of this struggle, she finds her captive life better, her kidnapper better.

Elliot and Lissy always doubt Ivy holding back details of her kidnapper, helping him in all possible ways. When they find a 7 year old body in the cellar, their doubts become true. They arrest Ivy and with persistent questioning gets her to talk. Elliot and Lissy aren’t extra ordinary detectives. They don’t solve cases with immediate breakthroughs. They are as confused as the viewers, trying to understand their victim, go through protocols, wait for pathology and forensic results- on the whole take due time to solve the case. They have a friction going on between them which I found really unnecessary. Elliot’s accent was really difficult to follow. Lissy come across very irritating at times too.

Moxams are an interesting lot. The growing relationship between Ivy and her sister is really endearing. The sister unknowingly puts her upcoming marriage at risk by focusing more on Ivy and ignoring her fiancé. The father tries to get back to his family and breaks up with his girlfriend. The mother wants to give space to Ivy, at the same time, be close to her as before. She is vulnerable and is scared for her daughter which is very natural. She finally gains her trust when Ivy opens up to her about what happened to her during her captivity. Of course, the mother having had a hidden relationship with someone else was again unnecessary. It didn’t have any bearing on the story.

As much as everything above makes the show interesting, the show doesn’t score high because it reveals who the abductor is very early. There is no suspense there. I expected there would be someone close to the family involved, *Spoilers ahead* but nothing of that sort happens. The climax is pretty straight, abductor killed and family united. This is where the show becomes ordinary and all the hard work put in establishing such intriguing characters and plot go wasted.

Thirteen is a psychological drama, not thriller. It has crime investigation but nothing path breaking. Ivy is the fore while the family as well as the detectives are all in the background. There are interesting moments when we, as viewers are made to guess if Ivy is speaking the truth or not, or what exactly happened to Ivy, but that’s it- just few moments. What could have been an excellent thriller ends up as an ordinary drama. Watch it if you don’t have anything else.

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